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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

THIEVELESS, adj. Also theeveless, thievless, thiveless (wm.Sc. 1905 E.D.D.); thaveless (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 273; Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (14 Jan.)), -lish (Uls. 1931 Ib. (5 Dec.)). [θi:vləs, em.Sc. (a), Uls. θe:v-]

1. Lacking in energy, spirit or purpose, feeble, listless, without force (Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Abd., wm.Sc. 1972); of a speaker: lacking in punch, ineffective (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (5 Dec.) 13); (Edb., Arg., Ayr. 2000s). Also adv. Adv. thievelessly, ¶-lie (Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xliv.), feebly, listlessly, carelessly.Sc. 1824 R. K. Douglas Poems 14:
My arm, that twined her jimp sma' waist, Right theeveless back I drew.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 289:
She answered in a gay thieveless-like way.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 11:
Doitin' waa up the road, theevelessly, by himsel,.
Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 215:
An easy-osy thieveless cuif, as souless as a rock.
Per. 1897 R. M. Fergusson Village Poet 80:
Poor Will had a very broken-down look, and appeared listless, or, as he himself expressed it, “rale thieveless.”
Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 4:
You left the like in Embro' in a scunner To booze wi' thieveless cronies sic. as me.
m.Sc. 1991 Tony McManus in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 154:
The yird is toom. The wunds o ilka airt
Are still. The maik o nocht is sensibill.
Senses, theiveless as a tippit urn,

2. Of actions: not to the purpose, ineffective; serving as a pretext, unconvincing.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
I trow, when that she saw, within a crack, She came with a right thieveless errand back.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A thieveless excuse, one that is not satisfactory. He came on a thieveless errand, he pretended to have business about which he was not in earnest.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 243:
Some wag had been rowing the Hosier's tail, by sending him on a thieveless errand.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 253:
It's been a thieveless job a' thegither o't, an' little better than a gouk's errant.

3. Cold, frigid in manner, dry, forbidding (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Rnf. 1825 Jam.); scornful (Uls. 1929). Used adv. in phr. to look thieveless to one, to give one a cold reception (wm.Sc. 1808 Jam.).Ayr. 1787 Burns Brigs of Ayr 89–90:
Wi' thieveless sneer to see his modish mien, He, down the water, gies him this guid-een.

4. Of weather: bleak, uncertain (Rnf. 1808 Jam., a thieveless morning).Rnf. 1825 Jam.:
Thieveless is applied to weather in a sort of intermediate or uncertain state. Thus, a thieveless day is one that has no decided character, neither properly good nor bad.

[Variant with voicing of w, of Thewless, q.v. Cf. also Thowless. O.Sc. has theaveless, = 2., 1657.]

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"Thieveless adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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